What is to be expected for athletes, Sochi region, and Russian gambling industry after the 2014 Olympics.
Russia has been anticipating and preparing for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi for 7 years, after the IOC has awarded the hosting rights to them in 2007. It is now certain that Russia, and President Putin in particular, have won the big gamble on Sochi, proving everyone wrong and demonstrating Russia’s warm-hearted hospitality and enormous power.
The country’s image in the eyes of the world has also been elevated thank to the Games and contrary to all negative reports in the Western media. Simply witnessing the magic of the Sochi Games has been enough to many people to understand that Russia is not only capable of hosting an event of such magnitude, but also doing it at an unprecedented level of professionalism.
Certainly, some questions about the alleged corruption and certain extremes when it came to security will remain open long after the Games. However, the reaction of the athletes participating in the Games and spectators cheering them on has been enough to convince the world and the Russian population that the Games were a success and that their big gamble on Sochi has paid off nicely.
What is next for Sochi participants
Athletes competing in the 2014 Sochi Games will now have to wait another four years, before going after gold medals again, this time at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. Majority of sportsmen will start their new 4-year cycle right after the Sochi Games, but some will call it a day and retire from professional sport.
Although Sochi Games broke all records in terms of participants and sport disciplines they have competed in, the next Winter Olympics is expected to have even more. But that’s usually the case and we can only applaud the International Olympic Committee for its efforts to popularize winter sports.
The gold medalists will have four years to celebrate their success, while those who missed out on the Olympic silverware will certainly be looking to train hard and take their revenge in Pyeongchang. Certainly, during the four years before the next Games there will be World and European championships in almost every discipline, giving athletes plenty of chances to shine again.
What will happen to Sochi and the region after the Games
The Sochi Games have been tough for Russia, and even though the country emerges as a winner after gambling big on the Olympics, the costs were there, and it will take some time to bring back what has been spent. The Games were particularly hard for the local population who had to bear all the construction and complete altering of their every-day lives, but hopefully the Sochi legacy will have lots of positive effects for them too.
However, there were more winners among the locals than losers. Bruce Talley, and American entrepreneur, shared with the Russian gambling news the story that the Games have been a massive boost for him and his business.
The investment banker saw a huge opportunity on the Russian property market before the Games and never hesitated to take it. He’s been involved in helping Olympic officials, sponsors, and broadcasters to cut down the red tape in the organizational process. A rather niche market, but with very successful results, nonetheless.
Bruce Talley comments: “It’s amazing. I lived in California for a long time and I watched the growth and development there, and of course southern California is a much bigger area … In a concentrated region like this, I’ve never witnessed anything like the changes here.”
He went on about his work during the Games: “There have been a lot of people who have relocated here working for various bodies. We’ve done relocation for some of those companies, helping them find apartments all the way up to providing services, financial management and contracts.”
Life after the 2014 Sochi Olympics
• Prospects for Sochi and the region after the games
• Possible changes to Russian gambling laws after the Games
• Looking forward to 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang
As for the city of Sochi and the region itself, there are different paths it can take. The official stance is that the Black Sea resort will make every effort to become even more attractive to the middle-class tourists, wishing to spend a couple of summer weeks at the seaside. This prospect has actually received a lot of support from President Putin himself.
Naturally, all the infrastructure, sporting facilities, housing, and so on will enormously boost Sochi’s attractiveness as a touristy destination for both local and foreign visitors. Needless to say that Sochi is already being regarded as a summer resort in the mind of the Russian population. Generations of holiday-makers have been coming down here for decades.
No one is doubting the tourism potential of the updated Krasnaya Polyana mountain resort. It previously only had 1 ski-lift, and one of the ex-pats living in Sochi recalls: “I really enjoyed the quality of snow but it took 40-45 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. They only had one road. There was nothing in Krasnaya, a small village and nothing much, only Russian tourists.”
However, after the Games there are three high-end resorts, which surely play to the delight of Russia’s ski-loving President Vladimir Putin, not to mention thousands of Russian alpine skiing enthusiasts, which finally got a world-class skiing resort in their own backyard.
Can gambling industry be a part of Sochi’s future after the Games?
The 2014 Games gave a huge boost to gambling taxes collected from those who bet on sports in Russia. The huge amounts of taxes flowing into the government’s coffers made lawmakers think that maybe gambling when it’s regulated and taxed is not such a bad idea.
The current Russian gambling laws prohibit most forms of gambling except sports betting and lotteries. Casinos and other gambling establishments can only operate in four designated gambling zones, which are too remote to be attractive to either gamblers or investors.
The situation with online sportsbooks in Russia is also unclear, with the official ban reaching them also. However, most land-based operators registered in the country, still manage to provide their services online on a semi-legal basis. Not to mention a long list of foreign-based online bookies going after the Russian bets.
After seeing how much tax money can sportsbooks generate, the lawmakers have finally understood that’s it’s more profitable to allow and tax gambling, rather than having hard-earned roubles leave the country and end up at off-shore based online gambling sites.
It remains to be seen just how convinced the lawmakers are and will the huge tax profits make them change the country’s gambling regulations allowing more freedom to the industry.
Check out the whole series of feature articles dealing with Russia’s big gamble on the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.